Bob MacIntyre put himself through 'pain' to fall back in love with golf

Bob MacIntyre has lifted the lid on the “pain” he went through to turn the tide to become a European Tour winner after losing his motivation earlier this year.

Bob MacIntyre and caddie Mikey Thompson pose with the trophy after the Scot's breakthrough European Tour victory in the Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Showdown. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Bob MacIntyre and caddie Mikey Thompson pose with the trophy after the Scot's breakthrough European Tour victory in the Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Showdown. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The 24-year-old from Oban is back riding on the crest of a wave just under a year after he became the first Scot since Marc Warren in 2004 to be crowned as European Tour Rookie of the Year.

He climbed to 24th in the Race to Dubai and is projected to be a career-best 62nd in the world rankings after recording his maiden win on the European circuit in the inaugural Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Showdown.

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In the immediate aftermath of his one-shot success at the Paphos venue, the left-hander admitted he’d struggled mentally with the COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year and he has also now said that he’d feared that might have a long-term effect on his golf.

“It was in the back of my mind that I’d lost my game a little bit,” said MacIntyre. “I didn’t have the motivation for a wee while, I wasn’t wanting to play golf and wasn’t enjoying it.

“I finally got the bug back. You start practising more, enjoying it, you could see the smile on my face last week (when he finished third in the Cyprus Open at the same venue), never mind this week, and we’re finally back to where we’re meant to be.”

Had there been one moment when the left-hander, one of the most popular characters on the European circuit, felt he’d got his love for the game back?“It was gradual,” he added. “I had to put myself through a little bit of pain. I wasn’t wanting to practice, but I did. I wasn’t getting pushed to do anything, it was doing it on my own terms.

“Then I decided I was enjoying it again and started putting the work in. I’ve got to enjoy my golf for me to perform, and I’m finally back. Wentworth (at the BMW PGA Championship last month, I was really enjoying my golf, but wasn’t quite right with clubs. But finally sorted that and we’re back.”

MacIntyre’s win came in just his fifth event with new caddie Mikey Thompson on his bag, having admitted it had been “one of the hardest decisions of my life” to part company with Greg Milne after the pair's success together last year.

Fifer Thompson caddied for Brooks Koepka when he set tongues wagging when winning the Scottish Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore in 2013 and MacIntyre is delighted he’s now part of his team.

“I played a lot of golf last year with Stuart Manley and Mikey was caddying for him,” he said. “I heard a lot about him and I got on great with him. I felt like I needed a change of some sort when my mind wasn’t quite right.

“I said to Stoddy [Iain Stoddart, his manager] can we sound him out to see if he would be interested.

“I feel like he’s got the winning mentality that I was wanting, we’re not scared to take on the world – and he’s certainly not. He’s been a brilliant help and today (the final round in Cyprus) it showed at the end.”

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